Maltese Dog Breed at a Glance
The Maltese dog breed is the ideal lap dog that makes a great companion at home, but also likes to run and play. It’s a bold and feisty dog, and despite its size, may challenge large dogs. Renowned for its snow-white, long, silky coat, the Maltese is a great dog for both new owners and kids. However, it is a dog that may be difficult to train for owners without previous dog ownership experience, and is best suited to families with grown kids because of its small size. The Maltese is a great watchdog, barking to alert owners of an intruder, but will not scare them off. It is often compared to the Bichon Frise, for its color and size.
Breed Group: Toy
HISTORY of the Maltese Dog Breed
It is believed that the Maltese actually originated in Malta or possibly the town of Melita in Sicily in ancient times, although there are many different theories as to its origin. However, it is the most ancient European toy breed, depicted in ancient Greek art (on amphora) and the Greeks even erected tombs in their honor. It made its way to England in the 1300s, where it was popular with the upper-class.
Origin: Italy / Malta
The Maltese is one of the gentlest of small dogs. It is affectionate, playful, charming, and fearless. Highly intelligent, it is known to be “manipulative” to get its own way. Be careful not to spoil it, however, by giving in, as this would result in owning a dog with bad manners and behavior disorders, leading to snapping at kids, other dogs, and strangers. Expect an alert and social lap dog with the Maltese, but also one that is sensitive that doesn’t take well to reprimanding. It may also bark a lot. This cat-friendly dog also has a high hunting drive, though its impulse to wander is low.
Physical Characteristics of the Maltese Dog Breed
The common colors of the Maltese are but the one – white. Its coat is silky and long, parted in the center and reaching down to the ground, which gives it the appearance that it’s floating when trotting. The dog’s body is square and compact and its expression, with its dark eyes and lips, is gentle and alert. Its ears are dropped and its tail is long.
The Maltese dog breed weighs between 4 and 7 pounds, and stands between 9 and 10 inches tall, regardless of gender.
Shedding is minimal, but grooming daily is a must. The Maltese is a hypoallergenic dog breed and does not drool.
HEALTH and CARE of the Maltese Dog Breed
The life expectancy of the Maltese dog breed is between 12 and 15 years, which is the average for toy dogs.
Common Health Concerns
Each dog breed is susceptible to certain illnesses and health issues. In general, the Maltese is a healthy breed, however, it may be at a high risk for developing:
- Necrotizing Meningo-Encephalitis
- Patent Ductus Arteriosus
and at a medium risk for developing:
- Portosystemic Shunts
- Patellar Luxation
Other health issues the Maltese may suffer from include deafness, hydrocephalus, shaker syndrome, hypoglycemia, open fontanel, hypothyroidism, entropion, and distichiasis.
The Maltese enjoys brisk walks and playtime. It may gain weight, so provide it some exercise. This breed can handle cold weather without issue, however, it does not fare well in hot climates. Apartment-living is fine with these dogs, as they do not require a home with a backyard.
With the average weight of the Maltese being 6 pounds, feed your small dog between 1/4 and 1/2 cup of kibble daily.
The grooming needs of the Maltese are relatively high, requiring daily brushing to keep their long, white coat in top shape and mat-free. Trimming or stripping is required on occasion, as is the occasional bath to keep the coat clean and bright. Achieve easier maintenance with a shorter coat. Also, check their ears regularly for wax buildup or debris, which could result in infection.
The AKC recognized the Maltese Dog breed in 1888.